A Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Resource

Disinheriting Your Child

Prior to Congressional legalization of supplemental needs trusts in1993, many families disinherited their child if he or she was affected by cerebral palsy. This was done so the child could continue to receive his or her government benefits.

However, a supplemental needs trust allows your child to receive government benefits and whatever assets you want him or her to receive as inheritance. As a result, disinheritance is no longer a legal strategy recommended by lawyers in the case of children with cerebral palsy.

A Supplemental Needs Trust must be pursued because you cannot simply rely on government benefits to provide for your child. Government benefits only cover the bare necessities, and on some occasions, slightly more.

Beware…You can Unintentionally Disinherit Your Child

Believe it or not, there are situations where people accidentally disinherit their child. Here are brief explanations of a few situations where that happens:

  • Young spouses who simply do not have a plan. John and Jane Doe are happily married. If John Doe dies, Jane receives everything. Jane remarries and creates an estate plan with a new spouse, Jim Doe, where each spouse leaves everything to the other. If Jane Doe then dies, there is no guarantee Jim Doe will give anything to any of Jane Doe’s children.  Her children were not intentionally disinherited, but by accident, that is precisely what happened.
  • Young spouses who have a plan, but fail to address their children. Many parents walk away with a false sense of security when they have any plan in place, but don’t realize all of the consequences of their particular plan.  Ensure any legal documents you use for passing on your assets address your children specifically.
  • Spouses who intentionally leave each other’s children out of the estate plan. This happens more often than people realize, and as unfortunate as it is, children not specifically named in an estate plan often end up failing to receive inheritance intended for them. But, since there’s no estate in place, all assets within the estate are given only to the persons explicitly named.

If you have questions about disinheriting a child or other related legal documents such as supplemental needs trusts, contact your local attorney for more information.